Saturday, January 01, 2011

Rainy Arrival in Tel Aviv

What a surprise! Our Tel Aviv was mostly empty. We each took a row and lay out. Rochelle gave me an ambien, which I took right after dinner. I fell to sleep pretty quickly and slept for over four hours, only waking (briefly) twice. This is twice as long as I have EVER slept before on a plane.

Eventually, I got up an finished the novel I brought for the plane: The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo. I had missed all the excitement about these novels as I was on vacation when they went mainstream. I very much enjoyed it, and guessed part of the solution.

The flight was uneventful. Food service was awful. Just terrible. Shame on you Delta International.

When we landed, the surly gentleman in the row behind me got up to take things out of the overhead compartment, earning a scolding from the flight crew (he had no shame). I decided to let my passive-aggressive side show. When the seatbelt light went off, I leapt to my feet to get my jacket out of the overhead. He kept trying to push past me and I pretended he didn't exist. I just kept maneuvering my body so he couldn't get by. He never said a word. I finally let him past when I saw the row in front was completely full. Then I noticed he dropped his cell. I picked it up and asked if was his. He took it and never uttered a single word or sound.

If only that feeling of triumph could have lasted once we were inside the terminal. Terribly long line at passport control, with two people pulled out of my line for special investigation. Mom, Dad, and Rochelle all get in before me.

No problems getting to the hotel, but the would not take dad's 100 shekel note as it was over 30 years old and no one recognized that bill marking any more (he found it in a desk). The hotel is nice. Rooms are cozy (read small), but artistically furnished.

We all showered and changed for dinner and went to Ernesto's, an Italian restaurant about four or five blocks north on Ben Yehuda. It had rained earlier, but cleared so we had no problems. Rochelle and I split the fried zucchini flowers, while I had a little of dad's salad caprese. Rochelle ordered the eggplant appetizer for her main course, but it was quite large. Mom had the soup, which she very much liked, and the fagotinni (a type of fried manacotti crepe). I don't think any of us finished our main courses as they were so large. The food was good.

One gentleman, seated in the corner of the restaurant, looked like he was wearing a tribble on his head. Rochelle asked if I thought it was a toupee, and I said if you have to ask it almost certainly is. He was using his scarf as a combination bib and cravat. I told Rochelle I thought he was an old-style yeke.

When we got back to the hotel, the clerk told me that I had a phone call. I thought she meant I had a message, but no, my friend Ofer was calling. He suggested I come over to visit, and even though I was exhausted, I thought I better since I didn't know when I might be able to do so again.

It was a 45-minute walk to his apartment near Kikar Hamedina. I had to be very quiet entering, since his 1.5 year-old son Yannai was asleep and feverish. "He has a 39.5 degree temperature," Ofer told me, "so he won't be going to kindergarten tomorrow." That works out to about 103 F. We talked for quite a while about the difficulties of being adjunct faculty in Israel, and he ordered dinner. I declined to share it as I was so full from earlier. Finally, around 10 pm, I said I was too tired to stay awake, so he gave me advice on how to get home.

I hoped to take the bus, but after waiting 25 minutes, I grabbed a taxi instead. I got back to the hotel in no time and went right to sleep. I only woke up twice from jet lag and now it's off to breakfast.

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